Knee surgery sidelines Leanne Smith

U.S. Ski Team downhill ace Leanne Smith, the only member of the women's national team to ascend the World Cup ranks after pursuing a collegiate ski racing career, is facing a second straight setback season following her planned comeback from a muscle tear last winter. On crutches and in a knee brace, Leanne toughed it out through the media rounds during the U.S. Ski Team First Tracks event this past week.
The two-time U.S. Olympian from North Conway is expected to be sidelined for the next three months after undergoing surgery two weeks ago on her right knee. Leanne is in good spirits and is determined to make come back.
The Granite State native, who spent a year at the University of New Hampshire before being named to the U.S. Ski Team in 2007, had the best season of her career in 2013 with two podium results (at Val d'Isere and Cortina d'Ampezzo) on the grand stage. Leanne was hopeful of moving further up the rankings in 2014-15, highlighted by the World Championships on home soil, but her World Cup campaign last year was dashed before it even started after she suffered an early-season injury which she can trace all the way back to one sustained when she was a young teenager.
"About a year ago from now (last November), I tore my quad muscle and the reason that I tore my quad muscle was because of the knee pain that I was having in my joint. ... It was shutting my quad down," Leanne said in an interview with "But the root of the problem is when I was (13), I tore a bunch of cartilage and meniscus. Back then, they just snipped it. ... If you do the math, it's about 15 years of (my) knee trying to protect itself. It grows all of these bodies to make a more stable knee as it starts to deteriorate. Most people are having those injuries in their late teens or 20s, and (surgeons) are suturing them back up all nice. The problem was I had it as a little kid, and it's been years and years of skiing hard on it and beating it into the ground."
Leanne posted the following on her Facebook page on Monday:
"Unfortunately, another surgery was done two weeks ago on my right knee. I am all fixed up and my lateral retinaculum is sewed back together again. It looks like about a three month recovery and then I can start to push things in the gym and hopefully be doing some skiing in the spring.
"Thank you all for the love and encouragement, it means a lot. I hate to be in this position again, but the future is looking bright. And thank you to my sponsors for the continued support, you guys are the best! @rossignol @pocsports @reuschbrand @swixsport @accapothecary @cranmoremountain.
"Here we go! Good luck to my teammates and the rest of the @usskiteam."

Eastman earns NESAC men's cross-country honor

WATERVILLE, Maine — Colby College junior Silas Eastman (Chatham) won the Maine State Men's Cross Country Championship on Saturday and was named Monday as the New England Small College Athletic Conference Performer of the Week.

Eastman won Saturday's 8K event in 25 minutes, 10.8 seconds to beat the runner-up finish by nearly eight seconds. He helped the Mules take second out of 11 teams. Eastman earned Maine All-State honors for finishing in the top seven.

Next up for Eastman and the Mules is the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Wesleyan University.

Eastman started the 2015 season with a third in the junior/senior race against Bates College. He also placed 24th out of 354 finishers at the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University.

Eastman, a two-time All-NESCAC and All-New England selection, was sixth at the NESCAC meet last year and placed 13th to help the Mules win the New England Division III title in 2014. He went on to take 38th place at the NCAA meet when Colby finished fifth in the country.


Charlie Morton speaks emotionally and highly of Jeff Locke

By David Manel

Bucs Dugout

Charlie Morton speaks emotionally and highly of Jeff Locke

Two Thursdays ago, as the Pirates clubhouse was closing to the media, Charlie Morton and I were finishing up an interview. It had been a long conversation, so I felt bad that we were now going over the time allotted for media availability. With the doors closed and the press gone, players were appearing from the different rooms that encircle the clubhouse and were beginning to prepare for the game ahead. Now I felt like I was intruding on the players' private time. But Morton was making a point that he seemed to want to finish, so I stayed.

The normally soft-spoken Morton, who is cautious with his opinions and typically speaks with a deliberate and halting cadence, was, on this occasion, speaking more directly and emotionally than I had heard from him before.

He was responding to my final question of the interview, which was about the maturation of the two younger pitchers on the staff, Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole. Morton first discussed how impressed he was with how Cole was handling all the pressure of the expectations that were placed on him at a young age. (More on that later.) Then, he started talking about Locke, and began by expressing frustration with way that the left-hander has been treated by the fans and media.

"I still remember the boos at the end of the 2013 season, when we were struggling, and feeling disappointed at what people perceived Jeff to be," Morton said. "I don't want to offend anybody, but that upset me. Because without Jeff Locke, who knows where the 2013 Pirates are. You can safely say, with Jeff, we make the playoffs and he was a huge part of that."

Morton also brought up an incident that to this day that still bothers not only Locke, but many of his teammates. It happened during the time in the 2013 season when Locke was way over-performing his peripherals and the hot topic was whether his success was sustainable. While he was riding high and getting ready to head to the All-Star Game, Locke started to regularly face questions about whether he was aware of the discontinuity between his success and peripherals — indeed, he was even asked about the difference between his FIP and ERA.

"In 2013, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball for three, four months of the season — legitimately one of the top five pitchers in baseball," Morton said firmly. "Then the questions started coming in, people started asking him about sabermetrics and regression and 'You're due to fail.'"

I told Morton that I remembered the FIP and ERA question, in particular. "Yeah," he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

Morton admires how Locke has rebounded from a strange 2013 season and some struggles over the past two seasons.

"For him to wind up in Triple-A and to struggle while he was there in 2014, then come back up and do a really good job — he was solid last year," Morton said. "Then this year to struggle and now I don't know how many good outings it's been in a row — six really great outings? Now, he's back to where he was. ... I know exactly how hard it is to deal with struggle. I don't know what it's like to not have a job after an All-Star season."

Finally, and this is when the clubhouse was closing to the media, Morton had one more important thing he wanted people to know about Locke and overcoming struggles.

"You don't think of major leaguers as having struggles," Morton said. "Like, legitimate real world struggles. But Jeff has had those struggles. I don't know if you know about his mom being diagnosed with cancer. It happened recently and then [his pitching has been] up-and-down. And he cares so much about baseball. He cares so much about the team and doing his part. There are [real] burdens [he's had to face] and he's done that and overcome it."

After the game that night, I asked Locke about how his mother was doing and if he was okay with me publishing Morton's quote. I'm happy to report that after going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, his mother is currently cancer free. Locke said that he found out that his mother was sick last year right before a September start against the Cubs. He still went out and pitched.


Saunders named Player of the Week

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — University of New England sophomore forward Vonde Saunders (Conway/Kennett High) has been selected Commonwealth Coast Conference Field Hockey Offensive Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 20

Saunders registered five goals and an assist in a 2-1 week for the Nor'easters. She opened a busy week with three goals and one assist in a 6-0 victory over CCC rival Roger Williams. Saunders added UNE's only score in a tough 2-1 road setback to Southern Maine, before closing out the week with a goal in the Nor'easters 4-1 CCC win over Western New England.

With the five-goal, 11-point week, Saunders is tied for second in the CCC with eight goals and ranks third in the league with 17 points.


Sares sets three world powerlifting records

CONWAY — Ted Sares of North Conway recently set three world powerlifting records at the Haywood Memorial Meet in Fair Haven, Vt. (near Rutland). The event was sanctioned by the prestigious Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS). The 78-year-old Sares lifted full-power, classic raw in the 75-79 Master Class, and had one of his better meets which he attributes to a revised training program.

Sares also holds all Elite Powerlifting Federation (EPF) State of New Hampshire records in the three major lifts in the Grand Master Class and the EPF strict curling record for Massachusetts.

Asked what, if anything, distinguishes him from other competitors, he grinned and replied.

"I'm still alive (laughing), but I reckon the answer is a combination of things including durability and tenacity," Sares said, "but first and most importantly, my age puts me in the exclusive Grand Master Class (75-79). Second, I lift 'Classic Raw' which means that aside from a belt, I don't use assisting equipment (gear) such as special knee and wrist wraps and/or special supportive shirts. Third, I lift 'Full Power,' that is, I lift in all three events — squat, bench press, and dead lift — and even in the rarely included strict curl.

"You might hear of someone my age or even older having hoisted more weight, but upon closer examination, you'll likely find that they only did one or maybe two events," he added. "Lastly, I'm an unusually active competitor. God willing, in 2015 alone, I will have competed in six meets and one strongman contest. I believe that fact alone sets me apart from all other lifters in my class. Some are older but they only compete once or at the most twice per year. I also compete in many different states and in two Canadian provinces, as I have a real passion for this activity.

"Many of the young lifters seem to blow out their shoulders or knees before they reach the mid-50s removing them from squat competition," Sares continued. "I've been lucky in that regard because I didn't overtrain when I was younger and my body has remained relatively-sound. I also have great genes, a solid all-around athletic background, and a superb trainer in Angel Williams. My major issue is dealing with arthritis and lifting through the pain."

Sares is also looking ahead to his next competition and set of goals.

"My next event goals are to once again do well in my class at the big Canadian Armageddon Spectacular on Nov. 7 in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and then slide back down the coast and win my second straight EPF Grand Master Nationals Championship in Johnston, R.I. on Nov. 28," he said. "As far as lifting goals, I'd love to approximate a total of 240 kilograms (529 pounds), recognizing that a young buck can do that with one lift. In fact, I was in one meet in 2013, in Boston, where an 18-year-old named Matt Sohmer squatted 806 pounds (322 kilos) raw. That eye-popper was a world record. In another meet in Moultonborough, a 215-pounder named Josh Cahoon got an amazing 2,100 pound total using gear.

Sares hopes to inspire people to never give up and to continue to set goals.

"I just want to inspire people," he said. "I want someone to look at me and say, 'because of you, I got off the couch, because of you, I didn't give up.' When I hear that, it makes everything worthwhile."